A LESSON TO BE LEARNED
In Thailand a traditional midwife apprenticeship and training began in villages and involved her watching the water buffalo birth during several seasons. The purpose was the following: if the water buffalo were birthing and having a straightforward labour and birth, which was the norm, and the midwife trainee tried to get close to the water buffalo or ‘help’ the water buffalo during labour, the water buffalo would KICK the trainee. If a water buffalo was labouring and birthing and was experiencing difficulties, which NEEDED help, which was rare, the water buffalo would ALLOW a human to come into its space.
Amazing learning for the trainee midwife – to know the powers of observation and to read body language during labour and birth – to only get involved when there are clear signs that help is genuinely needed.
Interventions in human labour and birth are regarded as almost ‘normal’ procedures in many hospitals. It is often the interventions themselves that cause many complications. It is commonly referred to as The cascade effect: epidural can lead to a compromised heart rate for baby, ‘noted’ foetal distress, which in turn can lead to forceps, ventouse or caesarean section – to rescue mother and baby and on it goes….
The medical interventions are now so common they are well known – rupturing membranes, induction of labour, forceps, caesarean section, ventouse, foetal monitoring etc…..
SURPRISING ‘OTHER’ COMMON INTERVENTIONS
BUT there are many other interventions that may not be obvious including anything that might stimulate the neocortex of the brain. The neocortex is the logical, rational part of the brain and interferes with normal birth physiology. These include:
- Bright lights
- Talking – especially asking direct questions of a labouring woman
- Loud music
- Too many people in the birthing room who appear to be ‘observing’
- Loud noises
- Not feeling ‘at home’ in your birthing environment
- Not feeling safe in your birthing environment
- Imposed restrictions to a woman’s movement
- Having a midwife/obstetrician who is not respecting your choices
- Feeling alone
- Too hot/too cold
This can cause a rise of ‘fight and flight’ hormones and decreases the body’s capacity to produce Oxytocin (the main hormone that facilitates a safe labour and birth)
WHAT IS A NORMAL PHYSIOLOGICAL BIRTH?
‘Birth that is powered by the innate human capacity of the woman and baby. This birth is more likely to be safe and healthy because there is no unnecessary intervention that disrupts normal physiologic processes. Supporting the normal physiologic processes of labour and birth – even in the presence of complications – has the potential to enhance best outcomes for mother and infant’
In the animal world – if there is any outside interference with labour, birth or the early postpartum – a common consequence is that the Mother animal will REJECT her baby. This is because the interference disrupts the innate physiologic response that is REQUIRED for optimal labouring, birthing, bonding and attachment. Humans are mammals – in that we produce MILK to feed our young. When there is any INTERFERENCE (intervention) during our labour/ births/ postpartum period, there are consequences – be them large or small.
We must respect a woman’s right to birth uninterrupted, and acknowledge and honour a baby’s right to enter the world quietly and gently into his mother’s arms, without interference. Hiring a doula is the best way for a woman to feel safe, emotionally supported and be your own true advocate.